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Residents rally in Helena


January 17, 2019

Mindy Ferrell

SANDERS COUNTY TO HELENA - Eighteen Sanders County residents were among the 2,000 Montanans to join the Rally for Public Lands in the Capitol Rotunda in Helena last Friday.

Sanders County was well represented in Helena last Friday as 18 county residents, out of roughly 2,000 total Montanans, showed support for preserving the heritage of Montana's 30 million acres of public lands at the state capitol in Helena.

The Public Lands Rally supporters showcased signs throughout the capitol rotunda that reinforced "These Lands are Our Heritage," a message resonated loud and clear through efforts made by Montana Wilderness Association (MWA), Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, Montana Conservation Voters and Montana Wildlife Federation, according to Mindy Ferrell, a Sanders County resident who attended the rally displaying a banner imprinted with "Sanders County Supports Public Lands."

For one hour the "message was clear that Montana is looked to throughout the country for its leadership in celebrating public lands," and plays an integral role in guiding both state and federal legislation, Ferrell shared of the biannual event, which occurs early in the legislative session. She said that this was the third time the event occurred and that in previous years it had been quite excitable and "heated." But she said this year the rally "was a rousing, inspiring event to promote the existence of, preservation of, and protection of public lands in this state."

MWA shared that outfitters and guides, sportsman and hunting enthusiasts, outdoor gear and firearm business owners, American Indians, and organized groups such as Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, Montana Wildlife Federation, and Montana Conservation Voters joined together expressing their fears if public lands were to be transferred.

Public lands belong to all Americans, supporters rallied according to MWA. They made it clear that wealthy and high-status, privileged citizens should not be the only people allowed access to these lands, which they feel would eventually happen with public land transfers. Supporters also argued that Montana's public lands generate a large portion of the state's revenue, a major financial loss would result with the transfer of public lands and would be detrimental to the state's economy.

Mindy Ferrell

Governor Steve Bullock and Senator Jon Tester were also in attendance and showed support for the assembly's message. MWA reported Bullock stating, "We cannot and must not leave to our kids and grandkids anything less than the unrivaled outdoor experience and heritage that our parents and grandparents worked so hard to preserve for us." They also stated that Testor asked Congress to pass the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and asked for them to realize the number of Montanan's supporting this program.

"We are a large, enthusiastic, law-abiding group that kept our permitted agreement to assemble in the rotunda to express our support for the continuation of federal management of our public lands," Ferrell stated.


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